UVA professor to talk on climate change TONIGHT as part of Voices of Discovery series

William Ruddiman, an expert on climate change, visits Elon University on March 17 as part of the Voices of Discovery science speaker series to talk about man's impact on the environment not just in recent years, but throughout history as humans tended livestock and engaged in deforestation for agricultural purposes.

The talk, “Farmers First Began Altering Global Climate Thousands (not Hundreds) of Years Ago,” takes place Monday in McCrary Theatre at 7:30 p.m.

The widely held hypothesis is that the beginning of human-related global climate change coincided with the industrial revolution and the use of coal- and gas-powered machines. But what if the story is much more complicated?

Ruddiman, a Marine geologist and paleoclimatologist, proposed that atmospheric greenhouse gas levels were first affected by early agriculturists through deforestation and the tending of livestock. His ideas suggest a more basic and significant impact of human activities on global climate than has been previously believed.

Ruddiman is currently a professor emeritus in environmental sciences at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. A Fellow of the Geological Society of America, Senior Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Observatory until 1992, and featured in a 1997 NOVA film called “Cracking the Ice Ages,” Ruddiman ‘s chief interest has been climate change. 

His latest book – Plows, Plagues and Petroleum – concerns the long term impact of human activities on the global climate.  This book received a Phi Beta Kappa Best Book Award in 2006. 

Voices of Discovery Science Speaker Series